According to a 2023 poll by Gallup, 37% of employees in the United States had embraced remote working, with a monthly average of 6.4 days away from the office. Moreover, 15% of workers indicated that they worked remotely full-time, while nearly 39% of US businesses provided telecommuting options to their employees.
Studies suggest that remote work is here to stay, and a projected 60% of office-based jobs will be performed remotely by 2023. This trend is driven by the increased productivity and longer work hours that remote employees are known for.
While remote work provides clear benefits, telecommuting culture can be challenging to establish in some companies. In order for remote employees to thrive, it is crucial for them to feel as supported and included as traditional office-based workers.
To effectively support remote teams, consider the following recommendations:
Set Up Security Standards and Training
According to Rick Albiero, the founder of the Telecommuting Advantage Group, 92% of respondents have access to a personal computer and internet that can be used for professional purposes. However, Albiero warns that simply owning a good computer isn’t enough, and businesses need to decide whether to permit remote employees to use their personal laptops for work purposes.
While personal computers may not always meet security standards required for telecommuting. Microsoft reports that around 25% of all PCs are not adequately protected and could potentially be infected by malicious software, including viruses and trojans. HP’s 2023 Cyber Risk Report found that 44% of breaches in that year exploited vulnerabilities that had existed for over four years, with the top 10 breaches all using long-known flaws that had not been fixed.
Enterprise IT departments have been slow to deploy essential security updates, but home users are even further behind. This supports Albiero’s argument that home computers should not be relied on for secure, critical communication and operations. As a result, providing remote workers with the necessary tools and software to work safely and securely is crucial.
Regular training on the latest software and security measures is crucial for all employees, whether based in-house or external. With constantly evolving technologies, it is vital to stay updated in order to maintain privacy and confidentiality of sensitive data. This includes proper usage of security tools, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), full-disk encryption, end-to-end encryption, and anti-malware software.
Provide Technical Support and Troubleshoot Computers
The significance of reliable IT assistance cannot be overstated. As technology continues to evolve, issues can arise, despite the expertise of personnel. Access to skilled IT support is vital for the productivity of remote workers, whether they are dealing with software problems, viruses, networking issues, hardware malfunctions, or the need to learn something new.
Since many businesses have employees located in different time zones, and in some cases, different countries, it is crucial to offer them access to IT support 24/7. This is the only way to ensure that they can receive timely technical assistance whenever it is needed.
Regular and Open Communication
For those who work in-house, having direct access to senior management is often seen as an added perk. Such accessibility enables employees to easily and promptly obtain solutions to any questions, concerns, or issues that may arise by simply contacting the appropriate person. However, when employees are working remotely, it can be more difficult to determine who to get in touch with in the event of a problem.
Despite the assumption that businesses that hire remote workers are aware of their productivity and performance, a Gartner survey of 260 companies found that a quarter of those companies were unable to determine what their remote employees were doing, or who they were. This indicates that even the remote workers themselves were unaware, just like the companies that employed them.
To efficiently manage a remote workforce, companies must ensure open channels of communication between employees and their managers. Remote workers need a clear understanding of whom to report to, whom they can reach out to for help, and how to do so in the most efficient manner. Furthermore, regular and planned check-ins with remote staff have been found to help maintain communication. Additionally, the use of communication apps such as Skype, Skype for Business, and Slack can be beneficial even when working with geographically dispersed teams.
Implement a Discount Program
Enabling employees to work from home has clear financial advantages for businesses. Rent, electricity bills, and transportation costs can be reduced. However, in some cases, remote work can result in increased expenses for the telecommuter. These expenses may include internet access, mobile phone bills, and office supplies, which are not typically incurred by traditional in-house workers.
Numerous businesses are now capitalizing on the cost savings that remote work provides and giving their telecommuters a remote work allowance as a show of appreciation. This allowance can be utilized to make small purchases in authorized categories, which can foster an environment where remote employees feel supported and can perform optimally without financial stress. Additionally, organizations can save significant amounts – up to $10,000 annually – in real estate costs by offering a modest remote work allowance instead of hiring in-house staff.
Take Action Now
It is evident that remote employees have significant potential for success in today’s workplace, which has only been bolstered in recent years. However, it is crucial to implement adequate measures to ensure the success of remote workers. Proper training, IT support, efficient communication, and access to financial resources are all vital for remote employees to achieve their full potential. By taking such steps, employers can be confident in getting the best results from their remote workforce.
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